Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement in advance of the Senate’s expected consideration of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). CARA is bipartisan legislation that would provide states and local communities with tools to prevent and treat drug addiction and support individuals in recovery. CARA includes provisions adopted from legislation that Donnelly and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) reintroduced last year, including an effort to bring experts together to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, as well as a national awareness campaign to educate providers, patients, and the public on the dangers of prescription opioid abuse and its connection to heroin. CARA also includes provisions to expand access to naloxone for law enforcement and first responders, similar to a program included in Donnelly and Ayotte’s legislation, and provisions to strengthen additional prevention efforts and increase access to treatment and recovery services, including initiatives for women, youth, and veterans.
Donnelly said, “Sadly, too many Hoosiers know the heartbreak associated with opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics, and that is why it is critically important that we take action to address this public health crisis. I am pleased that the Senate will be considering this bipartisan legislation and hope we can pass this bill quickly. CARA includes ideas from the bipartisan legislation that Senator Kelly Ayotte and I introduced last year, like updating best prescribing practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and, better educating Hoosiers and Americans, of all ages and demographics, about the dangers of prescription opioid abuse and its connection to heroin use.”
For two years, Donnelly has been working to combat the opioid abuse and heroin epidemics in Indiana and across the nation. He has listened to Hoosiers, introduced bipartisan legislation, partnered with federal, state, and local officials, and brought together stakeholders.
Donnelly reintroduced the bipartisan Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act with Ayotte in April 2015, which focuses on several key areas including enhancing training and education for prescribers; hosted a bipartisan roundtable discussion at IUPUI with U.S. Representative Susan Brooks (IN-05), Indiana and federal health officials, doctors, and pharmacists to hear a range of perspectives about best practices to help curb the opioid abuse epidemic; and made recommendations to the Governor’s Drug Task Force, providing suggestions for short- and long-term responses to Indiana’s addiction problems. Donnelly also cosponsored and helped the Senate pass the Protecting our Infants Act to help newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal and painful symptoms associated with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The Protecting our Infants Act was signed into law by President Obama in November 2015.
Both state and federal officials are acting on some of the bipartisan policies Donnelly has advocated for, including improving prescribing practices and enhancing prescriber engagement, raising public awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin use, and better utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level.